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Firefox not loading after clearing cache and cookies

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Hello, Firefox has begun refusing to connect to the server after I clear the cache and cookies. This is new as I usually clear everything several times while shopping or browsing commercial sites to prevent tracking. It has never been an issue until recently. I've also noticed that clearing cache/cookies no longer actually clears them - they remain visible as a number on the preferences page as well as listed in the about:cache list - even after I've cleared them using the drop down box from the menu bar History tab. This is definitely a bug.

I've had to clear everything, shut down Firefox, then RESTART! the entire computer to get Firefox to load once I manage to clear everything. Can anyone explain what is happening without telling me, "there's no need to clear the cache and cookies mid-sesh - it will clear when you close Firefox". I don't want, for example, youtube tracking my browsing after I watch a video then leave their site. I have a vpn/ghostery/adblock etc so it may not technically be necessary but I feel safer when I manually remove them. This used to be easily possible. What has changed? Thank you.

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